Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Semester 1 (Taught over 2 semesters)
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Seminars / Tutorials 16 x 2-hour seminars (which may occasionally incorporate lectures)
Other Film Screenings linked to seminars (3-hour weekly slot)


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Historical Research Project  (2000 word critical reflection and accompanying portfolio)  40%
Semester Assessment Essay (3000 words)  60%
Supplementary Assessment Resit of Historical Research Project  40%
Supplementary Assessment Resit of Essay.  All resits will need to focus on a different topic to that originally submitted/presented (if applicable). Resits of assignments when necessary and in accordance with the conditions and timetable set by the university.  60%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

1. Demonstrate an application of historical research methodologies relevant to the discipline through different modes of assessed work.
2. Demonstrate an understanding of film history by placing developments within aesthetic, technological and industrial contexts, and by drawing on critical theories and perspectives.
3. Form a critical awareness of the role played by historiographies within film studies.
4. Understand transnational contexts within film history.


  • To outline and scrutinize texts, subjects and movements which are included and/or excluded from traditional film histories and their relationship to dominant critical perspectives.
  • To think about the role of film historiography.
  • To link film texts with specific historical circumstances and modes of analysis into film history.
  • To encourage students to engage with primary and secondary modes of research.
  • To understand the relationship between Hollywood and European Filmmaking and mainstream and alternative cinemas from a historical perspective.

Brief description

This module is geared towards enabling students to undertake historical analysis of film texts: in particular, understanding a text in relation to contexts of production, and tracing aesthetic influences and modifications. The course will facilitate this through teaching a small set of interrelated sessions (2-4) on themes that have been of particular importance within film studies. These include tracing the influence of 'expressionism' through different historical movements: for example, looking at its changing manifestations across German Expressionism, American film noir, and 'neo-noir'; or through exploring case studies in technological change and its impact on aesthetics: for example, comparing and contrasting the impact of different film formats (for example, 35mm film and digital). These case studies will enable students to understand the challenges and possibilities of undertaking historical research through detailed case studies and, in particular, will encourage them to think about ways in which the textual nature of films can be considered from a historical perspective. The course will explore aesthetic continuities and disruptions across both Hollywood and European cinemas, and popular and 'alternative' cinemas. It will not only enable students to identify diachronic shifts, but also the ways in which synchronic differences may occur through the different institutional contexts within which aesthetic/technological devices are deployed. It will also promote the use of both primary and secondary sources in research through the assessed work linked with the course.


Possible topics include:

  • Expressionism:
  • German Expressionism; Film noir; neo-noir
  • Realism:
  • The British Documentary; Italian neo-realism; Contemporary social realism
  • Modernism:
  • Avant-garde filmmaking; Art cinema and modernism; Modernism and Hollywood
  • Postmodernism:
  • Hollywood and post-structuralism; Postmodern authorship; Transnational cinema
  • Technology:
  • Sound; Colour; Digital

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number
Communication Students will be expected to contribute to in-class discussions and relate their own research progress orally and in seminar groups, and a component of the research project will be an oral presentation.
Improving own Learning and Performance Throughout the module, when students will be asked to critically reflect on their own readings/viewings, as well as how their own research is progressing.
Information Technology Students will be expected to use the web and the numerous e-learning resources within the library throughout the course.
Personal Development and Career planning Students will be encouraged to develop research skills, presentation skills, engage in group work and develop their writing skills. These attributes will feed into their development as individual researchers, which will be particularly suited for an academic career or a career within the field of media arts.
Problem solving This element is developed through students' questioning film histories: e.g. how have they been constructed, what methods do they employ and what assumptions underpin them? Students will be encouraged to think of history as an active process that is subject to arrgumentation, and to participate in historical arguments.
Research skills This element is developed in two ways: one, through students' own investigations into existing materials and, two, through a particulat focus on preparation for doing their own dissertations.
Subject Specific Skills
Team work Although there is no group work independently assessed, it is hoped that in seminars students will work together as a group in order to make the best possible use of these sessions. To aid group activity, the module co-ordinator also encourages students to utilise the blackboard environment, specifically the message board, to discuss issues beyond the lectures or seminars.


This module is at CQFW Level 7